Thursday 5 June 2008

Getting Media Coverage by Setting a World's Record in ... just about anything

While my work assignments as a publicist are always changing, the one constant thing remains ... clients who want media recognition for themselves, their employees, their products or their own personal accomplishments.

For clients wanting publicity for events that are frankly not newsworthy (even though they are raising money for a good cause, they aren't necessarily of interest to the news department or the society columnists). To overcome the lack of media starch, clients often want celebrities to attend and help promote their cause. Can't find a movie star, a TV performer, a rock muscian, an author or famous artist? Well, the next best way to draw cameras and pens is to set a world's record.

Setting obscure records to garner media attention is something I have already written about on this blog. However, this past month I have found myself writing, yet again, about world's records. I recently wrote two press releases about events in the city of Ottawa. This summer the city's famous Rideau Canal will be holding a festival to mark the fact that it has been designated a Unesco World Site. As part of the celebration the organizers are staging the world's biggest bike ride and are asking bike riders from all of Canada to come to the capital and help set a Guinness World Record. What does a giant bike ride have to do with a 19th century fresh water canal? Nothing. But, cue the bike built for two?

A few days after writing that press release I wrote a press release about a number of hockey related events that will be happening in Ottawa this year. It all starts this month with the staging of the NHL Entry Draft at the Ottawa Senator's arena in Kanata (a suburb of Ottawa). Other Ottawa hockey events in Ottawa this year? Don't miss the Atom League Hockey Tournament. It is the world's largest hockey team with over 1,000 players taking part.

Other world records? While in Cuba attending a tourism conference staged in a 17th century Havana fort, I wandered into one of the fort's barracks and came upon an elderly Cuban man making the world's largest cigar. Even though there is a bit of connection between Cuban cigars and tourism, the actual record attempt was being done solely to attract media attention to Cuba. And, it worked. Even though the US has made Cuba off-limits to most Americans, the world's biggest cigar did attract cameras from CNN and AP. The new world's record garnered media coverage around the world.

Like every other media person with a camera, I did take time out from my meetings to take pictures of the record setting cigar. It was so long, the Cubans had to build a tent outside both ends of the barracks, to accommodate the stoogie.

While event managers embrace world records, sometimes the people achieving these weird milestones, can feel less than proud of themselves. For example, pictured above are five obviously embarassed American teenagers. This PR photo arrived in my inbox a couple of months ago from the makers of the"Guinness World Records: Gamer's Edition 2008." The teenagers set a bunch of Guinness World Records for scores they achied on the video game: Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock.

Below is a Reuter's story on the World's Biggest Cigar. As well, I have posted some of the underwater records set in 2008 I have written about for Diver Magazine's website. (They haven't printed them yet but ...)